The Kerala government today orally submitted in the Kerala High Court that the State's High Powered Committee has resolved to direct all prisoners released on parole amid the COVID-19 pandemic to return to prison immediately. (Saidalavi @Bava v. State of Kerala and connected matters).A Single Judge Bench of Justice VG Arun was hearing a batch of petitions filed by on-parole prisoners challenging the Kerala Government's orders directing various categories of on-parole prisoners to return to prisons in the months of November and December..The prisoners had been released pursuant to the Supreme Court's directions issued in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. .Earlier, the Kerala High Court had pulled up the State for deciding on the return of these prisoners on its own. The petitioners had highlighted that the issue ought to be examined by the High Powered Committee tasked with deciding on such matters as per the Supreme Court's directions. ."As per the direction of Your Lordship, a High Powered Committee has been convened and the proposal (deferring the return of on-parole prisoners) was dismissed. All the prisoners are directed to rejoin (the prisons) without any further delay...", the State's counsel submitted today..After the State sought time to place the official record of the meeting as an additional affidavit, Justice Arun directed that a copy of the document be handed over to the petitioners and posted the matter for further hearing on Wednesday, December 16, 2020..The interim order staying the challenged government order was extended till the next date of hearing..The petitions before the High Court challenge the Kerala government's order as it was not issued by the High Powered Committee as mandated by the Supreme Court..Kerala High Court seeks State response on preparedness to receive prisoners returning from parole amid COVID-19.After the High Court stepped in, the State convened the High Powered Committee to take a decision on the return of prisoners released on parole..On March 23, the top court had asked all States to consider releasing prisoners facing sentences of up to seven years in order to decongest prisons to minimise the risk of further spreading COVID-19. .The Chief Justice-led Bench of the Supreme Court had directed States to form a high-powered committee comprising the Principal Secretary of the Home Department, the Chairman of the State Legal Services Authority, and the Director-General of Prisons to consider various steps for de-congesting the prisons.